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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Faithful donors are the backbone of the Christmas Bureau

Coeur d’Alene resident Judith Horton, seen in front of her home Wednesday, has been sending $5 a month to the Christmas Bureau for years.  (Kathy Plonka/The Spokesman-Review)
By Nina Culver The Spokesman-Review

Judith Horton, a retired attorney living in Coeur d’Alene with her husband, has been a faithful Christmas Bureau donor for years.

Every month she sends $5, like clockwork, using her bank’s bill paying service.

“When I find a cause I support, I just put it into my bank and they do it for me,” she said.

Raising enough money to fund the Christmas Bureau every year is truly a community undertaking.

Catholic Charities, Volunteers of America and The Spokesman-Review work together to provide a food voucher for each family in need as well as a toy and a book for each child, but it is the community that makes sure there’s enough money to pay for everything.

Most donations are collected between Thanksgiving and Christmas and donations come in all sizes. Some large companies send checks with four or five digits that provide a needed boost, but it is ordinary people who are the backbone of the Christmas Bureau.

Retirees on a fixed income send what they can, whether it’s $10 or $100. Children save their allowance and donate it so other children may have a Merry Christmas. Families choose to send donations in lieu of exchanging gifts. No gift is too small and when you add them all together, they make a big difference.

Horton learned about the Christmas Bureau from an article in the newspaper several years ago. That particular article was about the books that are given to each child, carefully chosen by the child’s parents and knowledgeable volunteers. Books are important in Horton’s house. She is an avid reader and her husband, Tom Bacon, is a retired newspaper editor and radio host.

“I’m a word person,” she said. “The idea of getting words to children who wouldn’t otherwise have them is attractive and appealing to me.”

Horton likes to support organizations that help the community, including those devoted to music, art and animal welfare. But she and her husband are on a fixed income, so she gives $5 a month.

“We are, at this point, completely retired and don’t have a lot of discretionary funds,” she said. “If I keep the donations to that amount, we can support a number of groups.”

Horton is active in Chorale Coeur d’Alene, which relies on community donations, and said she knows the impact a regular donor can have on an organization’s budget, no matter what amount is donated.

Horton’s monthly donations are enough to pay for several new books, books that will find their way into the hands of young children who can use them to learn and explore the world around them.


More donations continue to come in, inching the Christmas Bureau closer to its goal of $535,000. Quite a few of those have come via PayPal after an issue prevented people from using the online donation platform for a few days. New donations of $10,057 have brought the year-to-date total to $72,992.83.

Christopher Jorgensen gave $1,000 via PayPal. Theresa M. Smith donated $1,000 via PayPal, writing “We know it’s been a hard year for so many in our community. We are happy to help make the Christmas season just a bit brighter for those in need.” Neal Rielly also gave $1,000 via PayPal.

Scott Sevigny donated $800 via PayPal. Diane Morissette contributed $500 via PayPal, as did Mike and Ione Howson. Michael Wiser gave $500 via PayPal.

An anonymous donor from Valleyford gave $400 “in memory of Don, Lois and Devin Johnson. Thank you for the extra effort and risk you are taking to provide Christmas for our community.” Eileen Thorpe, of Spokane, donated $400.

Mary Kay Eddy donated $300 via PayPal, writing “Thank you for helping Spokane families!”

Bruce Dentler, of Spokane, gave $250. An anonymous donor contributed $250 via PayPal “in honor of Junaita Wendlandt’s 92nd birthday come Dec. 3, 2020. Juanita has spent many years as a community volunteer across the Inland Northwest, supporting and working alongside those in need.”

Mathew Alling sent $250 via PayPal, writing “Even with COVID you find a way to help! Blessings go to all of you and to the many children you help. In memory of Milbert and Frances Joachim and George Alling.” Michael Nowling donated $250 via PayPal.

Linda Eitzman, of Spokane Valley, contributed $200. An anonymous donor sent $200 via PayPal. William Lockwood donated $150 via PayPal.

Patricia Wachter sent $125 via PayPal. Holly South donated $110 via PayPal. Ronald Ortiz gave $110 via PayPal, writing, “Thank you for all you do!” Mark McFall gave $102 via PayPal.

Teresa Evans, of Spokane, gave $100, writing “Read the article and was saddened to hear about how many kids wouldn’t get their toys this year. Hope this check helps. I had to use the help a few years when my kids were young and now I’m able to give back.” Andrew Carter donated $100.

Ann Kester, Frank Puschak, Sula Potter, Carol Hathaway, David McGovern, Virginia Pounds, Margaret Frogner, Bart Rayniak and Hans Bynagle each gave $100 via PayPal.

Scott Engstrom donated $80 via PayPal.

Judy H. Smith gave $50 via PayPal “in memory of my husband Chuck, who always donated to the SR Christmas Fund.” Mark Foley, Beth Edwards and Duanita Higgins each gave $50 via PayPal. An anonymous donor gave $30.